News Interest Index: More Americans View Campaign As Too Negative

  • April 24, 2008

Interest in what the public perceives as an excessively negative presidential campaign declined in the days leading up to the Pennsylvania primary. Just 29% of Americans say they paid very close attention to news about the presidential campaign last week, the lowest percentage recorded since December 2007. By comparison, 43% said they were following campaign news very closely during the weekend leading up to the March primaries in Texas and Ohio. Interest in the campaign has fallen among Republicans, Democrats and independents. In late February, more than half of Democrats were following campaign news very closely; that number has fallen to 38%.

Perceptions about the tone of the campaign also have changed dramatically over the past two months. In mid-February, 28% said that the campaign was too negative, while 66% said it was not too negative. The balance of opinion has shifted: 50% now say the campaign is too negative, while 44% say it is not.

Democrats' views of the tone of the campaign have changed substantially since February. Currently, half of Democrats (50%) say the campaign has been too negative, more than double the proportion saying this in February (19%). Democrats are now about as likely as Republicans and independents to say the campaign is too negative; in February, they were much less likely than Republicans and independents to express this view.

While an increasing percentage of Americans sees the campaign as too negative, more also say it is dull and too long. About a third (35%) says the campaign is dull, up from 25% in February. The percentage saying the campaign is interesting has fallen from 70% in February to 59% currently. Democrats continue to find the campaign more interesting than do Republicans or independents (73% of Democrats vs. 56% of Republicans and 53% of independents).

Nearly two-thirds of the public (65%) now says the campaign is too long, up from 57% in mid-February. Republicans are more likely than independents or Democrats to say the campaign is too long. Even among Democrats, however, a 57% majority sees the campaign as too long.

More Americans View Campaign As Too Negative on the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Web site.